Stand Up Paddling (SUP) on the Blackfoot River, MT

I first tried Stand Up Paddleboarding, or SUP, in February of this year when I paddled down the Shiripuno River to the Huaorani Ecolodge in Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, and then on a Galapagos Stand Up Paddle Multisport Adventure.  SUP’ing was a great way to experience the Galapagos, and it added one more activity to an already full multisport itinerary, making the Galapagos Stand Up Paddle Multisport Adventure the most active and adventurous trip in the Galapagos Islands.

Since that trip I’ve been exploring SUP’ing here in Montana, and I’m pleased to say that even though we are far from the ocean this sport is awesome here as well. We are surrounded by beautiful lakes and rivers here in central Montana, and SUP’ing is the perfect way to explore our local waterways.

Before I tried SUP, I have to admit, I was a skeptic. It seemed like a manufactured sport, something created just to sell more gear, or just for surfers. It seemed silly, and it also looked like it was too hard to be practical for the average person. Then I tried it. Turns out I was wrong, and SUP is a great activity that almost anyone can do. It is getting lots of press because it is fun, and it is a very practical way to get out on the water.

Stand Up Paddleboarding is an activity that can be enjoyed anywhere there is water, whether on the ocean, in lakes, calm rivers, or even in whitewater rivers.  It can be great exercise, and I’ve really come to prefer it to canoeing or kayaking on lakes and mellow rivers. On the SUP you stand up and can see your surroundings, and down into the water, better than from a canoe or kayak.  The SUP is more comfortable to paddle, and the paddle doesn’t drip water on you with every stroke like in a kayak. There is a sense of freedom on a SUP that is hard to get in other watercraft.

My only complaint about SUP is that every time I take my board out so many people want to try it I don’t get much time on it! Everyone who has tried it loves it, and I can see why it is the fastest growing watersport in the world. It can be whatever you want it to be — surfing in the ocean, flat water racing, running rapids, working out, doing yoga, distance crusing, or just paddling around on a lake or river enjoying the view.  Bottom line is that it is fun! So far my 4 year old son and my 78 year old mother have both tried it, and both like it!

This past weekend we took the family on the Blackfoot River near Missoula, MT, in our raft. We also took our NRS Big Earl inflatable SUP, and my wife and I traded off between the SUP and the raft.  Our 4 year old rode on the SUP between the larger rapids.  What a great way to get on a beautiful river, making for an awesome day! The water was low and we didn’t want to fall off the SUP onto rocks, so we knelt on the board in the bigger rapids, but in the smaller or deeper rapids, and in the flats between the rapids, we stood up and enjoyed the amazing scenery from the SUP.

I’m  a convert. SUP is going to stay. Detour is looking at all sorts of new SUP trips and destinations in South America for 2012. Stay tuned for these cool new adventures!

SUP Stand Up Paddling the Blackfoot River, MT

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